Author talk set for Dec. 8

MILFORD – Julie Boardman, author of Death in the White Mountains, will present a program based on her book at the Toadstool Bookshop in Milford at 3 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Published by Bondcliff Books of Littleton, Death in the White Mountains is the first book to focus on fatalities in the entire region. Boardman points out that “a great deal has been written about deaths on Mount Washington, yet in recent years, more people have died elsewhere. I wanted people to realize that dangers exist in many areas of the White Mountains.”

Boardman wrote Death in the White Mountains in the belief that by studying past fatalities and identifying the mistakes that caused them, we can learn how to be safe while hiking. Using a variety of sources, she compiled a list of 219 hikers, climbers and backcountry skiers who have died in the mountains. She categorized the fatalities according to cause of death and determined what fatal errors were made by the victims. “A majority of the deaths didn’t have to happen,” Boardman stated. “They were the result of an oversight or one or more bad decisions.”

For example, a lack of preparation was one of the most common mistakes made by hypothermia victims. Forty-six people have died from hypothermia, and 34 were not properly attired or lacked some necessary gear. The summer hikers were lightly dressed and had no extra garments that would have kept them warm when they ran into foul weather. Some of the winter hikers equipped themselves adequately for a day hike but weren’t ready for an emergency overnight in frigid conditions. Other common mistakes made by hypothermia victims were failing to turn around when the weather deteriorated and hiking alone.

Each of the first nine chapters of the book is devoted to a cause of death. These include falls, hypothermia, natural causes, avalanches, drowning, lightning strikes and freak accidents, lost hikers who were never found, hyperthermia, and murder. The fatal errors that caused the fatalities are illustrated through stories of some of the victims. Each chapter includes short summaries of all the deaths in each category along with advice on mountain safety.

Boardman is the author of When Women and Mountains Meet, a book about the women who shaped the interesting history of the White Mountains. Her work has appeared in Appalachia (the journal of the Appalachian Mountain Club), Sierra (the magazine of the Sierra Club), Connecticut Audubon and many other publications.

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